Breaking Down the SAT: Sentence Error

Everyone who takes the SAT must do their best to pass the Sentence Error section of the exam.

Can you spot the error in the sentence above?

If you recognized that the pronoun “their” does not agree with its antecedent “everyone,” then you are probably well on your way to becoming a pro when it comes to identifying sentence errors for the SAT.

Identifying Sentence Errors questions are what comprises the bulk of the new Writing section of the exam with 20 questions at the beginning of the multiple choice portion and another 10 at the back, making 30 questions in all. You will be presented with a series of sentences like the one above that may contain a grammar mistake and asked to identify it from among four underlined options, or if there is no mistake to choose the fifth option, “No error.”

These types of questions test your “writing sense,” or your ability to identify errors based on the way sentences sound and on grammar rules. Because of this, in order to do well on this section it is helpful to have a solid “reading” background: the more you read sentences like the ones presented on the SAT, the more attuned your “inner ear” will become to mistakes that sound wrong. However, even if you are taking the SAT next week and don’t have time to read the New York Times everyday, there are a few strategies and things you can do to boost your confidence and your score for this section of the test, including online SAT test prep.

One important thing to remember is that these identifying sentence error questions are not going to test you on your knowledge of punctuation conventions. While it is probably helpful to be familiar with things like comma rules or where to place apostrophes, what these questions really probe is your understanding of grammar and syntax within the context of sentence structure.

The best method of approaching these questions is to read through the sentence quickly, “listening” for what sounds wrong. This often yields an obvious error. If there is more than one possible answer that you think sounds wrong, look at each option within the context of the surrounding sentence and apply your grammar knowledge to eliminate those without errors.

If upon reading the sentence you cannot “hear” anything wrong, go through each underlined option and eliminate those that you are sure do not contain errors. After that, if you cannot identify an error, mark “No error” and move on.

The sentence errors you will be asked to identify can have to do with a variety of topics such as subject/verb agreement, parallel structure, pronoun/antecedent agreement, verb tenses, infinitives and gerunds, adjectives and adverbs, and prepositions. You’re not going to be asked to name or correct these errors, only identify them, so don’t worry too much if you cannot remember exact definitions. In the example above, for instance, you may not remember what an antecedent is, but if you remembered that singular subjects do not go with plural pronouns, you probably spotted the error anyway.

To prepare, do your best to familiarize yourself with grammar principles. Online SAT test prep can be very helpful in giving you a quick refresher on concepts you may have forgotten.

If you keep these tips in mind, you can breeze through this section and concentrate on others that may be more difficult for you.

Should I be Taking AP classes?

Taking AP classes during high school can give students an opportunity to earn college credits and often fulfill core requirements before ever arriving on campus. For exceptional students, AP classes can also provide a challenge and a great fit for their abilities. AP classes can challenge students and help to prepare for the SAT by helping you to learn new ways to work through information and preparing you for college level course material and test strategies.

Make a Commitment
While taking AP courses can be a wonderful choice, you should stay honest about how many classes you can manage in your academic schedule and how much work you have time for outside of the classroom. Studying for an AP test is time consuming and it is better to score well on one or two tests than to score poorly on four tests. In most cases, you will need a minimum of a three or four in order to be eligible for college credit.

Get All Your Information
If you can, talk to the teacher of the AP class before you enroll to learn about the course load, expectations, and how your teacher will prepare you for the exam. If you have a top college or top couple colleges, you may also want to find out their policy on AP credits so that you know how well you will need to score and also what classes the credits can replace in core curriculum.

Choose Classes Wisely
Choose AP classes in subject areas that you are interested in studying. You will be devoting large amounts of time to studying this material and may become frustrated if it’s not a subject you enjoy. Chances are, your high school offers AP classes in many different subjects, from environmental science to your foreign language. Choosing the right classes will help you to make the most of going in-depth in a college-level class.

Be Prepared for a Challenge
AP tests can fulfill college credit for a reason — they are college-level work. If you have a busy schedule and struggle to keep your grades high in regular classes, you may want to think twice about AP classes. It’s important to maintain a high GPA at the same time. You can expect to do more writing, learn how to better synthesize information, and learn to think as you would in a college class. If you’re up for a challenge and willing to work hard, AP classes can be great preparation for college.

Getting the Most Out of a College Fair

College fairs can be a wonderful opportunity to gather information, speak with admissions office staff members, and get answers to your questions all in one place. Plan to attend at least one college fair during your college search process and you will walk away with plenty of new information and resources to aid in your search.

Do your Homework
Plan to attend college fairs well in advance so you can select fairs that have many of your top choice schools in attendance. Find out which schools will be there and make a list of the schools whose tables you want to be sure to visit, as well as schools on a second tier list if you have time to check out more of the tables at the fair.

Be Prepared on College Fair Day
Dress neatly and professionally for the college fair–you don’t have to be formal, but you want to be neat. You can’t go wrong with business casual. Bring along a bag large enough to carry materials you collect at the college fair, a pen, and a notepad to write down things you find out. When you arrive at the college fair, find a map right away and plot out where you want to go first and your plan for the day. Many college fairs can be busy and hectic, so taking a moment to plan ahead will make a big difference.

Ask Good Questions
Spend some time looking at college websites before attending and prepare a list of questions that you have about each of your top choices. You want to ask good questions that you could not answer from the website or admissions materials. This will help you to gather information as you make decisions about college and also help you to stand out to potential colleges. Subjective questions can provide more interesting information than objective questions, like class size, which can often be answered from admissions booklets. Ask the people representing the school about the things that makes their college unique, their favorite traditions, and what college freshmen would say about their first year on campus.

Keep an Open Mind
While you want to be sure to get to all of your top schools, allow some time tat the college fair just to wander and see the other school’s displays. If something catches your attention, stop and ask questions. College fairs can be a great time to add schools to your list and explore options you may have not heard of in the past.

Overcoming Testing Anxiety

Testing anxiety can affect even the best students and have a strong impact on students’ abilities to perform well on tests. Finding ways to overcome testing anxiety will help you to do better in school, stay calm before exams, and perform better on big tests like the SAT too.

There are many causes of testing anxiety. Some students become anxious during the hours before a test fearing that they have not studied enough. The best way to combat this is to start studying early and not leave anything to the last minute. When you feel comfortable with the material, its easier to put the books and notes away knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare. When preparing for bigger tests, like the SAT. It is even more important to start early and stay calm. A solid SAT test prep schedule will help you to budget your time and know that you have done all that you can to prepare.

The more tests you take, the better you will become at keeping calm before a big exam. When preparing for the SAT, taking practice tests as part of your online test prep can be a big help to students who are anxious. Similarly, if your textbooks have practice tests or questions to check your work, go back and look at them before a test. This is a good way to anticipate potential questions and identify trouble areas. Answering questions about test material can also help you to feel confident going into the test.

If you have questions, make the time to talk with your teacher. Similarly, if you find yourself experiencing severe anxiety, it may be worthwhile to talk with a parent or guidance counselor about ways to feel better, handle your emotions, and find ways to lessen your anxiety.

The day before the test, read over summaries of the material and then put your books and prep work away. Take some time to relax and be sure to get to sleep at a decent hour the night before a test. Feeling well rested and not spending the evening cramming for the test will help you to relax. Going into the exam calm and confident counts for a lot and will help you to recall information and follow directions on the test.

If you feel yourself getting anxious, try taking deep breaths and reminding yourself of the work you put into studying. Learning how to calm yourself down before a test is a skill that will be useful throughout your academic career.

Getting Back on Track After the Holidays

Going back to school after having time off for the holidays can be a tough readjustment for many students. Going back to the school day schedule and back to responsibilities like homework and SAT preparation can be overwhelming after vacation. A few simple tricks can help you to better segue way back into your routine.

Readjust Your Time
Try not to get too far off your normal sleep schedule over winter break. This means trying to wake up no more than an hour later than you normally would for school. Keeping yourself close to your routine will prevent the shock to your system when you have to start waking up at your normal time again. If you do get off schedule, start the transition a couple days before you go back to school, waking up a little earlier each day to help you adjust to the hour.

Think Through Your Schedule
It’s smart to spend some time working out a schedule while you’re on break and have some extra free time. Map out your planner for the next few months, setting goals and filling in all of your information. If you use a calendar on your computer and one on the wall or in a planner, be sure they are all up to date. Take an afternoon to clean your room, clean out your backpack, and organize your school files. This will help you to go back to your school routine feeling prepared for another semester.

Cross Some Things Off Your List
Whether its finally finishing up the last of your college applications or getting through some extra SAT prep work, winter break can be a time to get ahead of schedule. Having some things checked off your to-do list will make the transition back to the school day a lot easier. Plus the extra time is a great way to devote extra hours to your study plan. Anything you can do over break to help relieve some stress later on is well worth the time and effort.

Plan Some Fun
Make plans to get together with friends the first weekend after you go back to school or plan a shopping trip or dinner for one night during the first week. Having some things to look forward to in that first week back to school will make the last few days of break a lot less painful. You can focus on schoolwork again while knowing you have fun things planned on the horizon.

Managing your online identity

Managing your online identity can be critical to your education and career. There are many websites that can influence your online identity and taking control of this part of your life can be an important step to building a desirable public profile. The first step to shaping your online identity is to search for your name online. Take note of what comes up first and read through the first few pages that are generated by your search.

Social networking sites can be a great opportunity to shape your public profile. LinkedIn is considered to be the most professional of all social networking websites and allows you to post a comprehensive resume online. Keeping your resume up to date can be important in building your professional online identity. LinkedIn allows you to identify your location, career field, and current company. You can also document your education, skills, and past work experience. As you link to other peoples’ profiles on LinkedIn, you will have the opportunity to ask colleagues and friends for recommendations. These recommendations will appear on your profile and can be accessed easily by potential graduate schools and employers.

Social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace can play an important role in your public profile. It is important to get familiar with your privacy settings and know what information is available to various groups of people. You will also want to closely monitor what other people post on your profile, including comments, photos, or videos. Regularly check and delete anything that you do not want included in your public profile. Photos that are public should always be professional and send a positive message to potential employers. Your Twitter account can also affect your online identity. It is important to monitor your privacy settings and control who has access to your information. Be careful about who you allow to access your profile on all of these websites, particularly when it comes to colleagues, supervisors, or professors.

If you want to fully control your online presence and your domain name is available, you may consider purchasing it for a small annual cost. You can redirect the website to an online profile or use it to create a professional online presence. This prevents the name from being used by someone else and will often appear early in search results. You will also want to check to see if any blogs, past or current, can be located by searching your name online. These should either be strictly professional in nature, deleted, or kept protected by privacy settings.

The influx of information from social networking websites can be used to your benefit during a job search or application process. LinkedIn may allow you to view friends or friends who work in your field and may provide important contacts in the future. Facebook or Twitter can be used to ask friends for job leads. By using social networking to your advantage and carefully monitoring your public image, you can take control of your online identity.

SAT Critical Reading Tips

The SAT critical reading section is designed to test students’ abilities to read and understand material. There are important skills that can help students approach the critical reading section with smart work skills. For this reason, a solid SAT prep program is essential to performing well on this section of the SAT.

The critical reading section is made up of 67 questions total. Of these, 48 are passage-based reading multiple choice and 19 are sentence completion. The questions are broken down into two 25 minute sections and one 20 minute section. The critical reading section is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale that will make up one-third of the total SAT score.

The passage based reading section asks students to read both short and long passages and answer a series of multiple choice questions about the material. The goal of this section is to test reading comprehension. Many students choose to read over the questions first to get a sense of what is important. After reading the questions, go back and carefully read the passage.

It is important to remember that the questions about each passage in this section are arranged not by difficulty, but in chronological order. This means it is best to work in the order that the questions are given so that it is easier to isolate the appropriate section of the passage for reference. One of the sections is a duel-passage section that will require students to read two passages and answer questions about each individually and some that reference both sections. It is typically best to answer the separate questions about each passage first and then begin the ones that will require knowledge of both.

The sentence completion section presents students with an incomplete sentence that they will need to fill in with the appropriate word. There may only be one blank word in the sentence or there may be two that need to be filled in.

While having a strong vocabulary will certainly help in this section, it is just as important to read carefully and be sure that you understand the sentence. If you don’t immediately know the answer, see if you can eliminate possible answers until one becomes the clear choice. It is also a good idea to read the sentence to yourself with the word filled in to be certain that it makes sense.

Time management is an important factor in the critical reading section. It is crucial to read both carefully and quickly in order to answer the questions in the allotted time. A solid SAT preparation program will help students get comfortable with the format so that they can relax and do their best on test day.

Taking practice tests during your SAT test prep is one of the best ways to prepare for the critical reading section. A good plan for test preparation will also help students hone their reading comprehension skills and feel comfortable with the format of the SAT critical reading section. The more you read passages that are similar to the ones on the SAT, the more quickly and accurately you will be able to work on test day.


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